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Ministers Agree To Take Timor Displaced Persons

MEDIA STATEMENT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 1 October 1999

Cabinet Ministers today formally agreed to provide refuge in New Zealand for up to 300 displaced persons from East Timor, initially for up to three months, Prime Minister Jenny Shipley announced today.

"The displaced persons will be accommodated in two locations, 100 in Mangere Refugee Reception Centre, and a further 200 in hostel accommodation in Hamilton.

'We will be talking with community groups in both these locations about how to meet the needs of the East Timorese and make them feel welcome.

"The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will decide how many displaced persons New Zealand will get, up to the limit of 300, and who they will be. They will be here on limited purpose permits, issued initially for three months. They will be here as guests of New Zealand and we will ensure that their accommodation, food and health needs are taken care of while they are here.

"At this stage, if all 300 come to New Zealand, it is estimated that their travel, accommodation, food and other services could cost up to $5 million for the three months.

"It is expected that they will want to return to East Timor when peace has been restored, so they can start rebuilding their shattered lives.

"I know that New Zealanders will make every effort to support the East Timorese. We can only but imagine the hardship they have endured. I urge all Kiwis to go out of their way to welcome them," Mrs Shipley said.

ENDS

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